Monday, 22 October 2012

Celebrating in style- Afternoon Tea at Pearl

So I guess most people head straight for a club to celebrate their 18th birthdays- not me! I’m far too much of a foodie to miss an opportunity for edible celebrations, and I was excited about going for a lovely dinner with my parents on my 18th birthday (which was Sunday the 14th). However, The foodieness of my birthday weekend was completely ramped up when I got an amazing surprise on Friday night; my sister Katie and her boyfriend Chris (who live in far away Bristol) came back to surprise me- they had previously said that they couldn’t make it back! So they arrived late on Friday night and told me they were taking me to afternoon tea the next day!!! Not just any tea- the Chocolate afternoon tea at restaurant Pearl in Holborn; this isn’t just a beautiful restaurant in an exceptionally gorgeous hotel building

 ...but it is also where I did my work experience under Jun Tanaka 2 years ago, it is an excellent restaurant and it holds a very special place in my heart. Though Jun has now left the restaurant for a very well deserved break, it is still brilliant and home to so many lovely pearl chandeliers- and chocolaty treats!!
We were presented with this fancy box of Twinings teas to choose from, we shared a pot each of Earl Grey, Russian Caravan and the fascinatingly delicate Silver Tip. 
The first “course” was a very filling selection of finger sandwiches, miniature smoked salmon and egg mayonnaise rolls and fluffy scones- we definitely thought that skipping breakfast had been the right decision at this point! Call me clichéd but I absolutely love cucumber sandwiches at tea- they make me feel all Victorian! But my favourite of this selection was the rare roast beef and very subtle horseradish- yum!
(apologies for the blurry photo!)
We were set loose on the chocolate buffet after our sandwiches, yep- a chocolate buffet, it was absolute bliss. 

There were two (white and dark ) chocolate fountains with lovely ripe strawberries and pineapple, but the highlight was the beautiful selection of patisserie that was available, between the three of us we managed to try one of each!
Here’s plate of pastry goodness, a white chocolate and pistachio torte, raspberry and dark chocolate tartlet and a milk chocolate earl grey mousse, all of them were extremely yummy, the glaçage on the pistachio torte was sheer and shiny, with a cute little macaron on top, but my favourite was the earl grey mousse, the delicate perfume and airy mousse was the perfect break from the super sweet and super rich of the other pastries on my plate!
This is Katie’s first selection, layered strawberry shot and mango, lime and white chocolate mousse; both had the perfect balance of creamy chocolate with the fresh fruity flavours, and the accent of the lime was brilliant, all the fragrance with no harsh sourness or bitterness- mmm!

And finally Chris’ very chocolaty choices, a rich brownie with whole hazelnuts and a gorgeous icing sugar pattern; a layered chocolate pave and a hazelnut gateau l’opera, with perfectly even and amazingly thin layers. All of them were so rich and indulgent, with so many textures of mousses, biscuits, sponges and crisp tempered shards. The best was the opera, classic coffee and chocolate flavours.
It was a wonderful afternoon, we actually ended up spending 3 whole hours lounging and grazing and supping, it was a wonderful celebration and I would recommend the chocolate tea to anyone, the staff are lovely and wonderfully attentive, and you couldn't wish for a better setting.

Hayley x  

Monday, 15 October 2012

Special People, Special birthdays, Special Cakes!

This is a very important year! Not only on the national level with the Olympics etc, but it’s also the school year that my friends and I all turn 18! I had an amazing (and foodie!) 18th birthday this past weekend, which I will blog about soon, but for today I have a couple of cakes that I’ve made for friends recently. Very recently in one case!

First of all- Aimee: my amazing best friend of 14 years who became a fully fledged adult in September. She is such a Francophile, and she loves Paris in particular (who doesn’t?) and so I had to go with a Parisian theme on this cake, complete with Eiffel Tower, Leuvre Pyramid, baguettes, croissants, macarons and metro tickets (that Aimee has all over her bedroom wall :-) It also had a tricolore ribbon trim and tricolore coloured cake layers.
I was quite happy with this Eiffel tower- entirely royal icing :-) 

this lovely photo was taken by the birthday girl herself, she is an amazing photographer with an brilliant camera!

I think the cake went down quite well, the Eiffel tower is still in Aimee’s glass cupboard! She even blogged about it on her wonderfully cool fashion blog, you can see the post here:

The second cake in this post belongs to Liv, not only a best friend but also an almost birthday-twin! Her 18th is today, and mine was yesterday! We have so many silly jokes between us, it was tough to decide which to present to her in cake form today! I went for one of our favourite Youtube sensations in the end, the amazing Potter Puppet Pals- if you havn’t watched them I suggest you follow this link straight away!
The cake was decorated with gold and silver stars, a copper glitter ‘18’, but most importantly sugar versions of the Harry, Hermione, Ron, Neville, Voldemort and Dumbledore puppets (I will point out that Neville is represented by a butternut squash!)

Neville, the slightly lonely butternut squash

Voldemort had to hide at the back- he's too evil for the front!

Liv cut the cake this afternoon, and I was told that it was very yummy! (chocolate cake with Nutella and marshmallows as the filling- a favourite combo of ours! )
Happy Birthday Livla!!